Friday 12 April 2019

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) @ The Vaults

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) @ The Vaults

The title is a contradiction, but the juxtaposition of happiness and sadness is at the heart of this musical about depression from Silent Uproar. Written by Jon Brittain, the Olivier award-winning writer behind Rotterdam and Margaret Thatcher Queen Of Soho, this performance at The Vaults is just one leg of a long tour across the UK.

And so it should be. A Super Happy Story... is a timely and vital production that needs to be seen. It's a musical that's as funny as it is serious, knocking you back with a sucker punch just as you belly laugh.

That juxtaposition is also a reminder that depression is an invisible illness. There's a contradiction between internal and external, between what we see in others and how they really feel. The show takes us through one young woman's struggle with depression from her teens to her mid twenties as she slowly recognises the illness and learns to cope. It presents a visceral portrayal of living with depression, how it eats away at you even in your best moments and turns you into someone else. Even those who haven't suffered can still relate to the central character of Sally.

That portrayal relies on the enthusiastic and energetic performance of Madeleine MacMahon. She brims with excitement and delivers the songs with gusto - written by Matthew Floyd Jones and heightening both the happy and sad sides of the plot - but is equally capable of steering the mood in new directions. It's an endearing and honest performance.

She's aided by Sophie Clay and Ed Yelland playing a variety of roles, both twirling on to the stage in different costumes and with instantly recognisable physicality. Their singing and dancing is also excellent, ensuring the musical is a joy to watch.

A Super Happy a lovable and charming new musical that packs a lot into its short runtime. Self-help cards are handed out after the show and it's sponsored by the charity Rethink Mental Illness, further emphasising its importance beyond the theatre walls.


Watch: A Super Happy Story... runs at The Vaults until 3rd May, before continuing the UK tour.

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) @ The Vaults